The connection between testosterone and hair loss is complicated. High levels of testosterone have been associated with hair loss for years, but current research suggests that the relationship between hair loss and testosterone is not quite that simple.
What is Testosterone?
Testosterone is an androgen hormone, found in both male and female humans, as well as in other animals. Testosterone is known for building muscle mass and stimulating the development of other male characteristics, but it also plays a vital role in many of the biological functions of females. Testosterone is produced in the testes of men and the ovaries of women and, in small quantities, the adrenal glands of both.
Testosterone levels vary throughout the day, and like other hormones, the amount produced by the body is impacted by biological factors such as age or illness. Typically, women have testosterone levels of about five to seven percent of those found in men, with levels higher in the morning and lower at the end of the day.
How Does Testosterone Affect Hair?
While high testosterone levels have been associated with hair loss for some time, recent studies have found that testosterone converts to Dihydrotestosterone, or DHT, with the aid of an enzyme.
Researchers have discovered that DHT binds to hair follicles' receptors, causing them to shrink and leaving them unable to produce healthy hair. Scientists now believe that the primary cause of hair loss is high levels of DHT binding to receptors in hair follicles, as opposed to the amount of testosterone circulating in the system.
While women typically have only a fraction of the testosterone levels found in men, even low testosterone levels can cause DHT- triggered hair loss in both men and women. High levels of DHT in women may fall within what is considered a normal range on a blood test but may still lead to hair loss. DHT levels may remain steady, but your individual body chemistry, including normal hormone fluctuations, may make you susceptible to DHT-triggered hair loss.
Research has identified hormonal changes as one of the most common causes of hair loss, and even small imbalances can have a significant impact on the body. Hormones require a delicate balance to work their best, and changes in the level of one can have a dramatic effect on how other ones function. A rise in testosterone or other male hormones, known as androgens, is not necessary to trigger hair loss. Biological changes that cause a lowering of predominantly female hormones can give an edge to androgens, such as testosterone and DHT, causing an imbalance that can lead to hair loss.
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Hormones are cyclical. Women's hormone levels fluctuate throughout their life and drop dramatically during and after menopause. This cyclic nature of our hormones also affect our natural hair growth cycle and is one of the reasons why hair loss is triggered and increases or decreases.
Your body derives many other hormones from testosterone, one of which is DHT. High levels of testosterone can increase the body's production of DHT. In women, low levels of complimenting female hormones can increase androgens' ability to reproduce, miniaturizing hair follicles and causing the hairs to stop growing and eventually fall out.
Hormonal changes occur naturally and are also triggered by a variety of biological factors, including medical issues, stress, rapid weight loss, and menopause. While hormonal changes may not be significant from a medical standpoint, even a slight change can cause an imbalance that can lead to thinning hair and hair loss.
If you are concerned about thinning hair or hair loss, it may be time to consult a professional. At Mane Image, we specialize in helping determine cause of your hair loss and work with you to create a customized treatment plan to meet your goals. To learn more about how hormones and testosterone can cause hair loss for women, contact us today, and schedule your FREE initial consultation.